Editors Note


Volume 3, Week 22

Editors Note

Brilliant!     After a long urgent conversation with the parents on Saturday afternoon, the R5 coin finally dropped and it dawned on me, for the umpteenth time that I will never, never be able to stake any claim to English ancestry - no matter how hard I try! In fact the little bit of French blood, six generations back is not even worth boasting about anymore… 

England, their England – what a joy to behold, this was a thoroughly professional, entertaining TEAM effort from Martin Johnson and his men that managed to silence even the notorious one-eyed Ausie commentators. A lot has been said and written about this team over the past few seasons but their display in Melbourne answered most critics’ zealous questions. They were brilliant and based on this performance there will be few sleepless nights for Woodward and co while his counterparts are already orde ring Liviton and a good dose of valium to go.

The Wallabies missed the services of George Smith, the dreadlocked fetcher who is every bit as influential as Jonny W. OK so he cannot kick for posts etc. but the quick, flowing phased approach of the Wallabies was missing and this is where Smith is such a vital cog in the Australian machine. Also, with a big burly centre at no 10 even though he had a good game it was always going to be an uphill battle against a supremely organized England defence. It took a great Wendell Sailor break to unlock th e Dover-like defensive wall and finally the big hooha about the ex League player’s abilities made sense. It goes to show, to beat a soldier you need a sailor.

The All Blacks beat Wales with a record score and the Red Dragon’s supporters can be forgiven if they, like their green-and-gold counterparts remain shrouded in a time warp of previous great deeds and times when Davies’, Williams’ and Edward’s ruled the rugby roost. Like old Rhodesians, rugby conversations will mostly begin with “remember when we…” The outstanding display for this couch observer was that of Daniel Carter, the young man produced some stellar displays during the Super 12 and in his d ebut test he looked as if he was born to the manor.

South Africa ‘A’ side ventured out to the scenic Boland town of Wellington for their match against the visiting Pumas from Argentina. Watched by a good sized crowd the match ended in a disappointing draw although the Argies were good value for money and considering the long trip, the more industrious of the two teams. The SA ‘A’ side looked like they couldn’t be bothered with the World Cup squad carrot dangling in front of their noses, only a few players escaped with reputations intact but hardly e nhanced. Niel De Kock, Juan Smith, John Smit, Robbie Fleck and Wayne Julies played well but the “import” from Gloucester, Tinus Delport was woeful. His positional play was not good; he missed every high ball launched upon him and he almost gifted an intercept try had the Argentinian caught it properly! 

Saturday the Springboks take on the Pumas proper in Port Elizabeth and the slayers of France must be a lot more confident to finally break the Springbok boogie and win a test against them. Their playing pattern is, according to the Springbok coaching staff, predictable and they know what will be coming however the question will be if they can stop/contain the Puma forwards and at the same time provide the exciting Bobo/Joubert combo with ball on the front foot. This is potentially the most exciting backline yet fielded by Straeuli and with Davidson rumored to partner Koen, there should be enough space to trigger the centres and feed two of the best finishers in the game, Slappies and Terblanche. Remember the halcyon days when Slappies put 4 tries past the Frogs at Parc Des Princes and Stefan 4 tries past the Paddies? Oops, another when we…

Enjoy Saturday’s rugby, the wounded French might just surprise the All Blacks a la ‘99… and support your team live at the park!



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Jolly hockey-sticks & all that by Tom Marcellus
I think it's fair to say that, in days gone by – long before Frik du Preez first donned his stewels in anger and long after Danie Gerber, all bushy eyebrows and pumping thighs, was the maestro of the midfield – the wearers of the Red Rose of England were not taken all that seriously amongst the traditional "heavies" of the oval game.

They were a valiant bunch, for sure, but the impression gained by us sweaty colonial types (including this armchair correspondent) was that they still represented the last bastion of amateurism, when rugger was a game played on the village green by gentlemen in knickerbockers.

For decades, English rugby seemed to be administered solely by chaps with double-barrelled names and neatly clipped moustaches, who had all won strings of medals during that recent scrap with the Hun. And, much like the British Open is simply "the Open" and Wimbledon is "the Championship", the English Rugby Football Union was simply referred to as "the RFU". You see, one didn't need to specify, old chum, 'cos everyone who counted knew precisely what you were gabbling about.

While the Boy Louws and Windhond Mullers, not to mention Colin Meads and Bunny Tremains of this world were spurred on to rugby glory by deeper, more sinister desires, our good fellows from Oxford and Cambridge, Blackheath and Richmond, seemed to represent the very best of what a "rugger-b*gger" should be: lantern of jaw, stout of heart and always good for a round or 2 at the bar afterwards.

On the international stage, these nobbly-kneed fellows provided the backbone of successive teams for the Baa-Baas and for England, whose lack of continued success during the 60's and 70's merely enhanced the notion of the game, battling Pom, who was content to both look down his pale nose at his more competitive cousins from the far-flung-corners of the Empire and to limit his on-field ambitions to simply "play up, play up, play the game".

Aaah, but how the times they are a-changin'.

It has been nearly 20 years since Tobias, Gerber & Co so crushed John Scott's English team in that memorable 2-match series, when the "Doring van Despatch" showed the full array of his extraordinary attacking talents. And I, for one, am sadly not expecting a similar slaughter of the innocents any time soon.

Although the current English squad enjoys an enviable pool of backline talent from which to draw – the Wilkinsons, Robinsons, Greenwoods and Cohens to name but a few – what really gladdens my heart is to count the number of "baddies" that Woodward can summons to arms. First and foremost is the skipper himself, who is now scrabbling, Hillary-style, along the South Col to the summit of rugby's Mt Olympus. It is here in the engine-room of the scrum – in the murky depths of the scrums, rucks and maul s – where Johnson & Co present a most formidable unit. Stand-outs are the ever-improving, pugnacious Thompson at hooker, the indomitable duo of Hill and Back on the flanks, and my own favourite, that old war-horse, oom Schalk Lourens Dallaglio, at the back of the scrum.

Gone are the carefree days of yesteryear, to be replaced by a dose of hard-nosed professionalism, with a healthy dollop of self-belief tossed in for good measure. The World Cup is still a number of months ago, and, as Sam Goldwyn might have observed dryly, "We all still have a lot of water to pass". But although the World Cup is traditionally not a happy hunting ground for title favourites – as the All Blacks found out in both '95 and '99 – who will stand up to challenge these marauding Brits?

I think I'd better make a call to my good pal, Suzie.

Media Mania by Desmond Organ
It was about this time four years ago that the Springboks were facing the wrath of many of the scribes that follow the game in South Africa. Following the sensational performances of 1997 and 1998 the Springboks had started to really feel the heat in the Tri Nations. The rugby public had limited access to the marvels of Internet communication and there was not much other than the usual daily opinions of the print media.

Several years on and we find the brains trust at SA Rugby becoming increasingly obsessed with what the media has to say. Not only do we have requests for positive reporting but the captain of the team has gone as far as to comment that the value of the supporters is critical to the team’s performance. It was only a few weeks ago that one got the impression that even the most “supportive” of scribes were starting to turn up the heat. Now sadly there appears to be a return to the goings on reporting that has come to characterise much of the local media.

One can just imagine what the English media would have to say about the current state of the Springboks. I would guess there would be heaps of cynicism and a few wise cracks too, much would be made of the apparent decline in the performances of regional and national teams and a lot too would be said about the solid performances of the younger ones. It is indeed a good thing that the internet brings access to the world media for otherwise we might just be faced with the drivel that came out of South Africa in the apartheid years, aside from those few publications that strove for the truth and honest reporting where possible. 

What then is it that makes our media so “soft “ when compared to the reports that flow from the pens and keyboards of scribes in England? Simply put the South African public has probably become so cynical over the years that reports, which really focus on developing investigative journalism, are not considered interesting. The marvels of the Internet have brought us chat rooms and Internet magazines and sadly even these have failed to really make the mark. I can think of only one SA chat room that has successfully managed the abusive elements that prowl the electronic waves. 

The Daily Telegraph is renowned for it’s insightful comments and humour and one can only wonder where the equivalent is in South Africa. There are a few scribes that break the cynical barrier but one has to go in search of them. I get the awful impression that the media in South Africa does not enjoy the same level of respect as their English counterparts. In England the comments of the media however cynical appear to be taken seriously. Taking this a step further the media appears to be honest enough to highlight the weaknesses of the national team without undermining them.

The Press Conferences that I attended in Scotland and England last year were not just reflections of victorious moments; there were some really challenging questions which focused not only on the shortcomings of the Springboks performance but also on making the English team appear as if they were merely waiting for honours to be bestowed at the annual royal “academy” awards. There must then be a degree of mutual respect between management and the media that follows them.

As far as I can fathom there is no logical reason for the Springbok management team to be that concerned with the comments of the media, they should instead be spending a lot of time wondering what it takes for the supporters to decide to ridicule the players on the field. South Africans have a reputation of being cynical and with a sporting history clouded with controversy few would blame them.
Something must clearly be out of sorts if the fans are losing faith in the national team. A quick look at the statistics of player numbers will tell you that there is a reason for concern. Even with the transformational focus of the rugby administrators it is indeed surprising that a country with hundreds of thousands of players cannot consistently deliver the goods.

The media in England, Australia and New Zealand are quick to highlight the state of the game in South Africa; they simply appear to have written us off to such an extent that players from so-called minnow nations no longer consider the Springboks to be a formidable threat. No wonder then that average man on the street feels the same way.

One cannot deny the fact that the media has lauded the performances of the U19 and U21 teams, but these unfortunately do not represent the pride of the nation, the national team does. It is time for the media in South Africa to give the administrators a reason to be concerned about the current state of the nations pride. 

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How has rugby changed so much? by Vinesh Naicker
Most of the All Black sycophants and cheerleaders were ecstatic over the final result between NZ and Wales, but I felt the game was a total waste of time.

The Welsh team would struggle to beat the Cats, and for the All Blacks to play them was of no more value than an opposed training run. Despite that the first 20 minutes of play by the All Blacks, right up to the first try, was absolutely pathetic. I haven’t seen so much dropped ball and generally messy play from an All Black team since 1998 and 1999 when “Tanes tossers” justifiably earned their reputation as the worst team in All Black history.

Howlett eventually scored the first try after they had butchered about 4 opportunities through sheer ineptitude. If they had played that way against the English they probably would have been 14-0 down at that point. After Charvis was stretchered off, due to a totally destructive tackle on him by Collins, any Welsh resistance crumbled.
Wales spent the rest of the game just trying to keep the ball out of their own half of the field.

In terms of a build up to the World Cup, that game was a step backwards The number of "no look" and "Hail Mary" passes that were thrown in the last 10 minutes by the All Blacks would have been severely punished by a competent opposition. That sort of basketball play will do nothing to build discipline and definitely will not stand them in good stead for any tough games in the World Cup.

Lock Ali Williams was quoted last week as saying: "Throwing the ball around and all that jazz is part of who we are and part of the way we play the game." That’s pretty scary, because history shows that “being jazzy” does not win the World Cup. History shows that the team which has the greatest structure, discipline and self confidence wins the tournament.

In direct contrast to that game the match between England and Australia was what international rugby is all about. England lambasted by the Southern hemisphere media for their boring play demonstrated that they are no longer a one dimensional team. It is interesting to note that despite John Mitchells talk of “horses for courses” and Eddie Jones attempts to select intelligent players for his team neither the All Blacks or the Wallabies really have a Plan B. England does. Their effort last weekend was in direct contrast to the week before. They were smart enough to keep the game tight against NZ, where the h andling conditions were not good and errors out wide would have been punished. Against Australia they brutally exposed the frailties around the mid-field and scored three superb tries.

Although all three tries were scored by backs the way that the forwards ran the ball in open play was fantastic. In direct contrast to the NZ/Wales game the handling was consistently superior with a mature recognition that there was no need to throw the miracle pass.

Things have changed so much since the game went professional and we are only now starting to see the full results of it. While NZ and South Africa are losing their experienced players to Europe and having to rely on younger and younger squads, teams like England are building up the experience and the intelligence to excel.

I suggest that if you were to take the international teams of today and put them in the jersey appropriate to the style of play 15 years ago then:

The current England should be wearing all black. They rely on a pack of tough forwards who do the basics well and have the confidence and experience to shut down a game. The backs complement the game of the forwards.

NZ should be wearing the grubby yellow of the Wallabies. We rely on a pack of small mobile forwards whose main ambition is to obtain parity with the opposition. Our great hope is to unleash our fast, flashy backs, who hopefully can score tries and win the game for us.

South Africa should be wearing the white of England. The current game plan relies on a big pack of lumbering forwards who are seeking set piece dominance and a first five who will hopefully kick the opposition to death. The remaining backs are there to mark their opposition and shut them down.

This I guess leaves Australia wearing the Springbok green. A reliance on their forward pack to disrupt the opposition and hold the ball for multiple phases. A set of large backs to smash into the opposition and force a way through to the try line.

I suggest to you that players like Colin Meads and Buck Shelford would have felt more at home playing alongside Dallaglio, Hill and Vickery than they would alongside players like Randell, Thorn and Oliver.

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I know a lot of South Africans, read a ton of South African commentary on rugby, and am still amazed by the negativity that pervades the vast majority of personal attitude and journalistic output about the Springboks, no matter whether they win or lose. Winning the World Cup in 1995 has set the bar impossibly high and no amount of real world intrusion can lessen sky high expectations and demands for perfection. I now understand why being the Springbok Coach might be the most taxing job in all of sport.      Matt Brown, Rugby Correspondent for Fox Sports world

I am not in this for the fame game.     Jonny Wilkinson

There are players who cost us points who will not be going to the World Cup.       Bernard Laporte

The Argentines weren't better than us, they were just less stupid.      Bernard Laporte

It feels great, we've taken a lot of crap since we've been over here, a lot of people criticising the way we play. Well, we've come out and won three tries to one.       Lawrence Dallaglio 

What you will see at Wellington on Wednesday will be a good match. There are certain players there that really want to play in the World Cup. So I think you can expect South African rugby to start showing what it has to offer pretty soon.      Rudolf Straeuli

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Letters to the Editor
Hi Ed!

I would like to make a few remarks on the thoughts of Gerhard de Kock in your 18 June edition of Rugby Forum. It seems to me we stil have provincialism as priority in some of so called rugby supporters. Reading his letter, one can clearly see where he comes from - Western Province. 

I don't know the man, only read the letters he writes. But really, in this day and age it is stupid to still think that every player who plays in the blue en white of Province, has to be included in the Springbok team. It is also obvious that he tries to cover up the nonsense he is writing, by trying to make room for André Snyman. What on earth did Snyman do that Halstead didn't do? Both of them had a very, very poor match in Durban. What did Stefan Terblanche do wrong? Missed the one or two tackles? I would like to know who else scored as many tries as Stefan did, in as many test matches. I think some people look at a rugby match with prejudice about players who are chosen in positions where they want to see their heroes.

Joost was out of position a few times because he had to do the work some of his team mates neglected. He was held in other mauls. Sometimes it happens that a player can not be in position becasuse he is still on the ground. I agree that Niel de Kock is an excellent scrumhalf. (By the way, is Niel a relative?) In Province he has to play second fiddle to Bolla Conradie! Why?

Looking at the time when Visagie (WP) Kempson (WP) and Boome (WP) came into the game, one must always remember that the opposition was kind of tired by then. Anybody can make a few more tackles, stand better in the scrum, etc. Even an under 9 boy can tell you that.

Calling on players like Rossouw (WP), De Viliers(WP), Fleck(WP), Greeff - my favourite player -(WP), Paulse(WP), all injured, will only weaken the side. We all agree, when these guys are 100% fit, together with players like Krige, Van Niekerk, Smith, AJ, Januarie, Pitout, and Geo Cronjé, we'll have a good team. As long as we send Skinstad to Siberia for good. Unfortunately, some of them were not fit to play. So, dear Gerhard, let us give credit to the men who played and won.

Ed, keep up the good work!
Kys de Wet

Dear Lucas

What a weekend of rugby last week between NZ and England, what I enjoyed the most was Murray Mexted comments, though a little patriotic and biased, he is one bloke who does not pull punches. How strange it took a big match without South Africa participating in it, to show the pedantic of Stuart Dickenson. His last couple years of referring sort of went unnoticed to the rugby world except in one country, now all of a sudden he has been stopped from referring the match between NZ and SA. I am sorry to harp on this but can almost foretell that NZ will make sure that Stuart Dickenson does not ref any international matches in which they play in, he will probably run the line but that is about it. I would like to congratulate you Lucas and the South African team for not stating the obvious about Stuart and leaving it Vinesh to fall in the trap, hehehe good one fellas. 

Regarding the Springbok v Scotland match, something nobody picked up on was barring the interception/ opportunist try that the Scots snatched while Springboks were throwing the gauntlet down, I believe the scoreline may have been considerable different had Springboks first put points on the board, they did well to regroup and start over again and in the end win. Going forward I would like to put forward my team for the Tri-nations barring injury

Louis Koen (I believe in test rugby you first choose the most reliable goalkicker before choosing a Captain, I only wish Naas would remember this statement of his.)

Jaco vd Westhuizen
Ashwill Williams
Anton Pitout
Marius Joubert
Trevor Halstead
Neil de Kock/ Craig Davidson
Robbie Kempson
Cobus Visagie
Deon Coetzee/ Himangi Schumange
Victor Matfield
Selborne Boome
Corne Krige(Cpt. against my better judgement because he is a Stormer not a
Pedrie Wannenberg
Wikus van Heerden/ Joe van Niekerk
Hedro Scholtz

Once again well done guys for a great forum, that offers enjoyment, sorrow, remorse, tears, laughter anger and an opportunity as an armchair critic to voice your opinion. To Vinesh, sorry hehehe about regarding Stuart Dickenson, I am not truly not trying to act clever but I told you so in this forum a couple of weeks back.


Hi Lucas,

I have to let you know about this one!
On TV 3 on NZTV sport slot during the evening news, there was a interview with John Mitchell, no introduction required! He admitted that he did not know how to stop the Poms from slowing the ball down during their test lost 15-13 in Wellington NZ and then went on to say that IF this is the type of rugby the Poms are going to play comes RWC, what boring rugby we are going to see? Directly after that the sports interviewer reacted in saying:
"I'd rather be a BORING WINNER than an EXCITING LOOSER" Do I now need to say anything more? 

Look, it comes down to this. In the S/H there is this perception that we in the S/H needs to play exciting, crowd pleasing rugby by scoring tries only. I have no problem if that idea but by George, if I CANNOT but on the other hand are able to WIN by slotting penalty kicks that comes my way (instead of going for the corners and try to score a try from a lineout - someone should have told the ABs this was an International Test not a Super 12 game?) and a drop goal or two, I'd much rather prefer to be a BORING WINNER of the World title! Again, do I need to say anything more?

The question of all is what do you want to achieve? WIN thetas it, no matter how just WIN even if it means by 6 dropgoals because at the end nobody is going to care how you did it, but everybody is going to impressed that YOU ARE THE WORLD CHAMPION! My magtag man, wat de don**^# is dit met die mense? Slotting a dropkick under pressure, slotting a penalty from a very sharp angle, like Koen and Wilkinson can, (NZ and Aus obviously don't have such a kicker) that is a talent in itself guys. That ball is not round?

With regards to David Campese's remarks: England were not the only side to disappoint me. One try in the France-Argentina match, two in the South Africa-Scotland game. Are we going to witness a World Cup kickfest? 
So what, who the hell cares, whatever? we will still se very good, tactical, well planned and a team effort from all sides. Let me remind mr. know all Campese and co that the 1995, 1999 Semis (by Aus by the way Campese!) was won by dropkicks?

Also South Africans will remember that period all too well when McGeechan led the Lions to a historic 2-1 series win over the Springboks back in 1997 with a dropkick? It was the second Test in Durban that saw former  England centre Jeremy Guscott sink the Boks with a drop-goal in the final minutes of the game to give the Lions a famous victory.

Did anybody complain then or even now? No, so get a life Campese and John Mitchell! Some, if not most of all these so-called rugby experts and ex players doing commentary are really very idiotic in their remarks and summaries and makes rugby look bad with their stupid remarks. If the likes of NZ and the others (SA and Aus) wants to scores tries only, well start your own type of rugby (something like league) because then you need to change rugby completely by taking away kicking totally for a start. 

Don Clark a well know rugby legend once said:"International Tests MUST be won, no matter how JUST WIN THEM?" and in addition to this Danie Graven said:"Look at the scoreboard?" Now really, do I need to say anything more? 


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